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Justice will be denied by court fee rises

Richard Worth National Spokesman on Courts

6 June 2001

Justice will be denied by court fee rises

The Labour Government is determined to restrict access to the courts to the rich, National's spokesman on Courts Richard Worth said today.

"Ordinary New Zealanders will no longer be able to afford to have cases heard in the District and High Courts. Only those on legal aid, and large corporates, will now be able to afford to take cases to court. The Government is denying middle New Zealanders access to justice.

"The fees announced by the Government are simply staggering. For instance the court fees for a two day trial in the High Court will be a minimum of $5,300, being the filing fee and daily hearing fees. This is an increase of 305%. And court fees for a two day trial in the District Court will be a minimum of $1,450, being the filing fee and daily hearing fees. This is an increase of 106%.

"It has never been intended that court fees should cover the full costs of running our court system, but this is clearly the direction the Government intends to take. We pay taxes for our court system. It is a basic obligation of government. Yet the Government's latest plan will deny access to the courts, one of the most basic rights of any citizen.

"The Minister's assertion that the Disputes Tribunal is most commonly used is clearly incorrect when you look at the figures - 24,027 claims were filed with the Disputes Tribunal in the year ended 30 June 2000, while 37,167 civil proceedings were commenced in the District Court for the same period and 1,421 were commenced in the High Court.

"These fee increases are simply another form of taxation. The Government's spending programme is clearly under pressure and they will find any means to raise extra revenue," Richard Worth said.

Ends

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